Take a look at my succulents

Succulents.

I don’t know why, but  that word sounds downright dirty to me. In spite of their grown-up, dirty sounding name, they can be the cutest little plants I have ever seen. I mean, have you seen the teeny-tiny, adorable containers they come in at the store?! So little. So cute.

SucculentsThis little leggy one on the end is my favorite…Elephant Bush. I have another one sitting on my piano that I’ve had for about 6 months.

Elephant BushSuch a pretty plant. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t require much from me. Just a big drink of water every two weeks or so, and a spot in my brightest room.

SucculentsThese little guys are sitting on my dining room table.  I have no idea what that spiky flower thing is, but I love it.

SucculentsI definitely recommend keeping some of these guys around. They don’t require too much attention and they add so much to any room.

SucculentsOkay, I’m done showing off my succulents. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

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I see green things!

It’s been exactly one week since I put my seeds in the ground and I am finally seeing tiny seedlings making their way up towards the sunlight! I didn’t see anything at first glance, but after watering I saw a little corn stalk poking through, then a little thyme plant, then finally, the beginnings of a beautiful baby beet!

Beet Seedling

Beet Seedling – 7 days to germination.

Growing things is something that is truly rewarding every step of the way, for me, at least.  Anytime I do something in my garden, I feel productive, like I’ve really accomplished something important, which makes me happy. It’s kind of like raising children without all of the whining, ouchies, and dirty diapers. Speaking of that last one, I need to wrap this up.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

The beginning of our summer garden

Arizona Summer Garden March

My wonderful husband finally got around to building me one of my 3′ x 6′ raised garden beds! I still need another two for our zucchini, summer squash, more corn, and watermelons, but I got this one started just in time. I am a little sad that I forgot to start my tomatoes last month, but I am currently looking for some USDA organic plants, so if anyone in the Yuma area knows of any, let me know! I know the Sunrise Farmers Market had them in October, but I didn’t need them then.

Anyway, as you can see, I forgot to get markers, so I am currently using oblong rocks found in the gravel part of my yard to mark my veggie rows. From left to right (left is west facing) I have golden bantam sweet corn, green okra, some nasturtium, blue lake bush beans, pronto beets, sweet basil, thyme, italian parsley, and carrots.  My veggie seeds come from Seeds of Change and my herb seeds come from Zziggysgal.  I used a soil mixture of half compost, half topsoil.  I am hoping that Sam gets the sprinkler system guy out to our house soon so I can get the beds hooked up.  As soon as he builds the other beds, which needs to be done by 15 March, I will plant more corn, sugar snap peas, marketmore cucumbers, dark star zucchini, sugar baby watermelons, and yellow crookneck squash, probably some more nasturtium and herbs as well.

I got Milo some zohar f-1 sunflowers to plant along our front yard fence line, so I am excited about that! I hope to instill the same love of gardening that I am developing and nurturing in myself in him too.  I’ve heard that sunflowers are a great place to start with kids, oh and beans.

I will update as little green things begin to push their way up above the surface of the soil in search of the life-giving sunshine. Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Favorite Gardening Reads {so far…}

I’ve been reading up on gardening in the southwest lately and I have found that I actually really enjoy reading these books. I could seriously delve into a horticulture book and not come up for air until it was finished. I never though I could read these kinds of books and be sad when they were finished and I had extracted every ounce of gardening knowledge from their pages. But now I’m sad. Must. Buy. More. Gardening. Books.

Favorite Gardening Books

1. Extreme Gardening: How to grow organic in the hostile deserts by Dave Owens

This book is a must-have for gardeners in the Arizona desert. According to the author, there is a whole other set of rules that come along with gardening in this part of the US, and he covers them pretty well! So well, in fact, that I have a beautiful, thriving flower garden full of dianthus, geraniums, alyssum, begonia, stock, bottle brush, trailing rosemary, and blue plumbago! I couldn’t have done it properly without this book. I would have had no idea what this (nearly lifeless) soil needed without his book (which was just a healthy dose of soft rock phosphorus and compost).

This book has full chapters dedicated to vegetables, herbs, flowers (including roses and sunflowers), fruits & nut trees, and lawn care.  He covers how to choose each variety for this part of the country, how to plant it, how to care for it, and even how to enjoy and protect it! Of course he also covers organic pest control, and Arizona gardening basics. I take this book to the nursery with me and I feel no shame whatsoever whipping it out when a pretty flower catches my eye (or nose).

2. Talking Dirt: The dirt diva’s down-to-earth guide to organic gardening by Annie Spiegelman

If you don’t think you’d enjoy reading a book about gardening, this might be the book for you. The writer has a wonderful sense of humor that I can totally relate to with chapter titles like Going Compostal!, Butterflies in the ‘Hood, and Return of the Killer Tomatoes.  She discusses the seemingly mystical botanical naming system, covers the anatomy of a plant, provides a list of all the tools you need and why, and so much more, all while providing a few really good laughs (that is, if you have a sense of humor).  At the end of each chapter she provides a plant recommendation complete with care instructions, origin, hardiness zone, and growing requirements.  She also provides a “whaaa-whaaa rating” from 1 to 10 depending on the difficulty of care just to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself in front of your neighbors.  This was the first gardening book that I ever read, and may be the reason I can enjoy reading them so much, so I’d start with this one if I were you!

3. Grow Organic by DK Publishing 

This is a pretty generic organic gardening book that covers all of the basics…along with beautiful photos.  It has a pretty good section on composting, and a pretty large section on growing organic vegetables.  If you need/love photos, then this is a great book.  I reference it when I feel like I might not be doing something right (like tamping?).

4. Desert Gardening: Fruits & Vegetables by George Brookbank

This is another great book written for gardeners in the desert southwest.  It’s pretty dry if you don’t already enjoy reading gardening books and requires a lot of imagination when looking at the photos. See for yourself:

Desert Gardening by George Brookbank

 

But come on, people! This is, by far, the only complaint anyone has about this book. It is packed full of information about desert gardening and has taught me so much that I wouldn’t have known had I not been able to look past the terrible photos (gosh, that sounds shallow and superficial).  Like grapes! I had no idea that grapes could survive and thrive here! But they can, and George tells me how! He has a whole chapter dedicated to peppers. And my favorite thing? The Desert Gardener’s Calendar.  You all know me. I love to plan. I love calendars. Something about little squares with numbers in them indicating the day of the year just motivates me to write stuff in them…then forget about the stuff that I write…then feel guilty when I go back a few pages and see that I forgot. Darn. Anyway, he gets super specific in his tables, even including the elevation, which really changes up the calendar for some vegetables.  If you are serious about gardening in the desert (Arizona, California, New Mexico) I definitely recommend this book. The photos will make you cry, but the information and knowledge George Brookbank provides makes up for the tears you will shed.

I am hoping to add a few more books to my library this Christmas (**Christmas hint-Christmas hint** My husband told me to yell that really loud before I mention something I might want for Christmas):

1. Month-by-Month Gardening in the Deserts of Arizona by Mary Irish

2. The Garden Guy: A seasonal guide to organic gardening in the desert southwest by Dave Owens

3. Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A practical guide to small-scale, integrative farming and gardening by Sepp Holzer. 

Do you have a favorite gardening book or resource? Share! Share!!

Back to Okinawa – Yard Work

Lordy, that flight was awful. I don’t know why I always try to talk it up like it’s no big deal.  I guess it normally isn’t any big deal, but being almost 6 months pregnant on a 13 hour flight kind of changes things.  Kit and I made it through, though.  We arrived home at about 9:30pm on Saturday night.  None of the outside house lights were on, so it was kind of scary walking up the driveway.  I ran through several spider webs.  I love how Mandi, my friend who picked me up, stayed at the beginning of the driveway until I got through the door. I guess she wanted to make sure I didn’t get eaten by monster spiders first.  Thanks, Mandi! Haha. Just kidding, I really am thankful to her and my other friend Beau for taking care of my house and everything else they did while I was gone.  Anyway, the house was fine, just dusty and there was a little bit of mold downstairs.  Nothing a little bit of 409, bleach, and fabuloso can’t fix! It is back to being it’s immaculate self now.  The yard is a different story.  I did not take “before” pictures, so there is no comparison until I get it looking nice again.  I have cleaned it up, for now.  Did some weed-wacking, tree-trimming, and weed-pulling, but there is still so much to do.  Here are some photos of my (lack of) progress:

 

I need to get some flowers for that little wood bench for some color and get the grass back in good shape.

 

Somehow, I need to clean that wall at the top.

 

My driveway is still looking sad. I need to get a rake and get all those leaves up and trim those trees back a bit.

 

Next project (after the driveway, of course): My Balcony! You can see HERE how pretty my balcony can be. Unfortunately the 2 or 3 typhoons that decided to visit while I was gone didn’t like how it looked, so now it looks like this:

Definitely have to get this cleaned up, pronto!

 

I don't feel too bad about the other balcony since I never got around to beautifying it in the first place.

As you can see, I have so much to do.  I think I will save the hard work for a cooler day and spend today on homework.  Have a great day, everyone!

My *Present* Balcony Garden

Well, it doesn’t exactly look like I said it would here, but at least I finally have plants that look like they will be producing fruits and vegetables soon!

Starting with the closest: bell peppers, strawberry, two beefsteak tomatoes, and one cherry tomato.

Cilantro. I really hope this one survives!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two more tomato plants

Oregano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemary

Mint

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chives

Strawberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to add a little color to the balcony so I picked up one of these New Guinea Impatiens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yay! I'm almost done with this balcony!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just have to clean out this flower bed and then I will be able to move on to the next balcony. I have no clue what to do with it.

Who would plant these? I hate shrubs, or whatever they are. I think I will plant my garlic and onions here after I pull these ugly things up.

What am I going to do with you?! I think it's time for an outdoor furniture purchase...Sam!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course I had to include a picture of my handsome puppy, who faithfully and patiently stood by my side all morning waiting to go back inside.

He's such a good poser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost time to start dinner. Have a great day, everyone!

My Future Balcony Garden

Just one short week until Sam and I leave Louisville for our home in Japan! I am very excited to get back home for a number of reasons:

1. I really need to get reacquainted with my fellow EOD wives

2. No more cold weather!

3. Sam and I get back to our “nesting” phase that was so rudely interrupted by his military training

4. I finally get to (re)start my herb garden and get started on my veggie garden!

I am most excited for #4! I have been Stumbling on my garden channel all morning looking for clever ways to grow veggies and herbs in small places, like my balcony, and also in pots. I also want to begin composting since I am aiming for an all organic and earth friendly garden.  I was raised on a farm where my grandparents grew most of their fruits and veggies (all organically), so I feel like starting my own garden is only natural, and something I was meant to do. I think I will start my herb garden off with cilantro, rosemary, basil, italian parsley, dill, oregano, sage, and thyme. I will probably add chives, garlic, shallots, and mint in a few months. I think I will start my veggie garden with beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant…I’m going to try snap-beans and carrots, but it may be too warm in Okinawa. I’M SO EXCITED!!! As you can see, I am very eager to get started on this new project. Okay, I’m going to go read more fun articles on turning my dogs poop into plant food. Have a great weekend!

I am in love with this idea for my balcony. *growbetterveggies.com*